As an off-the-charts introvert, I related strongly to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal: “Why Introverts Make Great Entrepreneurs”.
Typically, we associate success in business — especially as an entrepreneur — with gregarious, extroverted types who love working a room and inspire others through the force of their strong personality.
Instead, the piece makes a case for how qualities common in introverts can make them just as successful, and perhaps more so, at building and leading a business. Some high-profile examples include Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook, and Warren Buffet, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway — a company I have written about a few timesin this space.
A common misconception is that being introverted is equivalent to being shy. That certainly may be true about some, but what really characterizes an introvert is how they get their energy and process information. Introverts do that internally, preferring to spend time alone or in small groups rather than in large-group settings with a great deal of social interaction — which can leave them feeling depleted.
Other hallmark, and undervalued, qualities of introverts include the ability to focus, think critically, and empower others, rather than seek external affirmation.
I would add one more: trust.
I think being a good listener and thoughtful, rather than attention seeking, has made it easier for me to establish trust with others.
In my essay, “Entrepreneurship As The Privilege of Creating Community”, I write about how, as an introvert, I’m able to approach my external constituency — clients, strategic partners, and industry leaders — from a place that is genuine and heartfelt.
I can think of nothing so foundational to healthy business relationships, both internal and external, than trust. For that reason, I’m glad the natural strengths of introverts are finally getting some attention.
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Jonathan Terrell is the Founder and President of KCIC. He has more than 30 years of international financial services experience with a multi-disciplinary background in accounting, finance and insurance. Prior to founding KCIC in 2002, he worked at Zurich Financial Services, JP Morgan, and PriceWaterhouseCoopers.Learn More About Jonathan